re: "Buying boots. The challenge of expanding U.S. land forces."
"Although this is shameful for a nation as wealthy as the U.S., it is simply a fact that our political class does not think or act as though we are at war; yes, they are at war with one another, but not so much with our foreign enemies."
"Imposing "normal" budgetary procedures in a wartime environment may not be so wise."
"In recent years, the size of the active-duty Army — that is, regulars plus reservists and guardsmen called to active service — has consistently hovered between 600,000 and 625,000; the total number of Marines is less than 200,000. That's a pretty good measure of what it takes to sustain the level of effort demanded by the current strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the Long War; by that measure, Gates' goal of 547,000 for the active Army is far too few. But if one thinks that the current strategy reflects an on-the-cheap approach to irregular warfare, these numbers would be too small. A better-educated guess at an Army able to sustain multiple Long War engagements — a 21st-century reckoning of the "two-and-a-half war" calculus that formed the basis of Cold War defense planning — would call for an active end strength of about 750,000. It would also begin to restore the Army National Guard to its traditional role as a strategic reserve; the current experiment in employing the National Guard as an "operational reserve" — that is, in sustaining Iraq rotations — has been an additional complicating factor in Long War strategy-making. The nature of the mission, a long-duration, constabulary-style, cavalry-on-the-frontier effort, calls first for a long-service, regular force."
"(T)hey also are numbers that require nearly a decade to achieve. What was taken apart so quickly and easily in the 1990s will not easily be put back together. The Army argues that it cannot accommodate more than an additional 30,000 soldiers per year given the small size of its training base. Although an expansion program should be designed to increase this capacity — a force of 750,000 would probably require recruiting 90,000 to 100,000 soldiers per year — a sufficient Army growth program will demand a sustained effort and a long recruiting war."